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May 22, 2015
May 19, 2015
Carl Trueman writes in First Things about the fact that modern universities seem designed to prevent vigorous-yet-civil debate about contentious issues. As the progressive tribe solidifies its hold on western culture, the name of the game is conformity to the progressive ideal. Not only will dissent not be tolerated; it will be punished in any way possible.
Universities [...] are not supposed to be confessional institutions inculcating a particular creed, nor should they be built on politicized extensions of child-rearing philosophies founded on self-esteem. They should be places where debate is part of the way of life, and where one has to live shoulder to shoulder with those with whom one differs. Yet they have become the very places where this inability to disagree is now apparently cultivated as a positive virtue. The truly educated person is now no longer the person who understands an opposing viewpoint even as he rejects it. For even to understand an alternative viewpoint is to collude in the oppression which such an opinion embodies.Trueman's hope (expressed in the second paragraph of the excerpt) is no more than a pipe dream, at least for now.
I suspect that the future health of democracy depends upon university administrators worrying less about the dangers posed by whatever is the micro-aggression du jour and more about providing safe places for those who actually want to hold opinions and have debates. Safe places, that is, that are marked by the very risks and danger involved in intellectual engagement.